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Leaving with Dignity: Negotiating with a Tiny Terrorist

The sweetest, happiest little boy ever.

The sweetest, happiest little boy ever.

Morlan is my nephew and I love him more than anything else in this world. He is one of the sweetest, most lovable children I have ever met and nothing gives me greater pleasure than spending time with him and taking him places. However, there is a darker side to this little angel; the tiny terrorist that is only known to a select few individuals. Morlan is 2 and has yet to learn how to control his little emotions. Therefore, when the slightest little thing does not go according to his plan; look out! He will unleash attacks the likes of which the CIA and FBI have never witnessed.

Whenever we go anywhere – park, playground, restaurants, mall, grocery store, mailbox, wherever- he has a complete melt down when it is time to leave. He begins kicking and screaming followed by throwing himself on the floor or ground. As you scoop him up, he continues kicking, screaming and flailing, so that you almost drop him. Finally he becomes stiff as a board and completely immovable as we approach the car seat. Any negotiation is futile at this point.
The epitome of frustration and anger

Note the anger and frustration.

My husband and I have tried taking him to more places, thinking if he went to enough places he would see that leaving is not a permanent thing and that he will be able to come back. On the other hand we have tried taking him to fewer places, hoping he would realize that his behavior was causing us to not take him out. We have tried stern voices and soft voices, ignoring his behavior, and everything in between. Still, we have seen no change.

Other parents love to offer advice and for a while, I welcomed experienced input, but I have become very selective about that now. In fact, if one more parent of teenage or adult children, who remembers nothing of this issue from their toddler, tells me that you cannot let the child be in control or one more wackadoo, who does not have the slightest notion about the infant/toddler mentality, tells me to give warnings before it is time to leave, I will have my own meltdown!

What exactly am I supposed to do to take back this illusion of control, buy a shock collar and zap him when he starts having a fit? And for those who suggest 5 minute warnings, Are you kidding me? Give warnings to someone who has no concept of time and does not care one iota that you are only going to tell him one more time… Really people, is this the best parenting strategy you’ve developed? Where is Dr. Spock when I need him?

5 minute warning you say? Seems unorthodox and blatantly ineffective, but please feel free to continue as if I’m still listening.

It must be nice to have such well behaved children who understood what to do and what not to do from infancy.


At one time, I entertained the idea that perhaps some of this advice was worth employing. On more than one occasion I tried telling him, “we will be leaving soon,” “only 5 more minutes,” or a less specific “you can only play for a few more minutes.” He looked blankly into my eyes, smiled and continued about his business. Then, when I made good on my promise that we were, in fact, leaving, the rage that came over this sweet child mirrored the emotion of an angry poltergeist during an exorcism.

Another strategy that has been suggested is the old stand-by; a bribe. Well guess what? He is not buying it, folks! I have had juice, cookies, crackers, candy, fruit, toys, books, puzzles, stuffed animals, my cell phone, and all sorts of other goodies hurled at my head. These pitiful offerings do nothing more than add fuel to his rage and ammo to his arsenal! Why would you people suggest I arm him?

It is unfathomable to me to believe that any child around this age would respond to a five minute warning, but if, in fact, your child did or does, congratulations. As for the bribes, I could see how some children might accept a temporary distraction, but Morlan is not one of them. I am no longer taking advice from people who clearly do not understand this problem, nor am I listening to people who want me to exert my authority. Sorry, no Gestapo here! Please little person, jost git in ze cah.

Please little person, jost git in ze cah!

I will simply have to take solace in the fact that he will one day grow out of this and until then things are going to be a little awkward when we try to leave places. But for all of the parents out there who do not have ideal children who do exactly as they are told when they are told from birth through college, I sympathize with you.


About kliichow

Kimberly Liichow is a freelance writer based in Panama City, FL. She has been writing virtually all of her life. Her earliest memories are of writing short stories, newsletters, poetry, and plays that she would cast friends and relatives to act out. As an adult she has enjoyed sharpening her skills and growing as a writer, though she admits she will never know all there is to know about writing. She is always willing to take on a new challenge and step out of her comfort zone. She prides herself on being creative and unique. She believes a person cannot find her purpose as an individual if she only follows the same road as everyone else. There are no dead ends, just opportunities to find an alternative path and while being unsure of what is to come can be a bit intimidating, it is also what keeps life interesting.


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